How to Balance Your Family and Triathlon Training
So there I am, training schedule in hand, travel bag packed, water bottle filled and I’m ready for the off. I was just about to say goodbye to the one who makes all this possible when the door to the lounge door bursts open and young Connor tears down the hall. “Daddy, Daddy can we….” I didn’t need to listen to the rest as I knew I’d done a poor job of keeping Johnny onboard with my training schedule and that it was going to be tears (his not mine).
This was a timely reminder that keeping a balance between training schedule and family life needs constant focus. Having said that I’ve learned that there are some important tricks that you can use to manage a huge part of the conflict that inevitably arises.
You’ll probably need to fine tune some of the ideas but if you keep abreast of the ideas below you’ll begin to see how much of the conflict just evaporates. Before you start working on the 8 tips below you need to reaffirm your love for triathlon. If something big has just occurred in your life (new baby, married – that sort of thing) you need to review all of your priorities to see where your training schedule will fit in the bigger scheme of things.
1. It’s a two way thing, this communication lark
Someone, somewhere shares your life. That significant other is the key keeping family and triathlon in harmony. You need to keep your partner abreast of your goals. Not the long term woolly ones, I’m talking about this seasons training and competition goals and any other goal that is sufficiently clear.
You need to discuss them (note discuss, not tell) and you really need to discuss them as far in advance as you can because doing so will make it easier to sort out any conflicts.
2. Take your time with the sticky issues
I should probably have put this at the top of the list it’s that important. If you’ve got a big decision to make don’t rush it. Give yourself time to think the situation through from different perspectives.
You’ll often be tempted to go with your “gut feel” but if you give yourself time you’ll be able to see things from many perspectives and you might even surprise yourself by changing your mind.
3. Train early
Are you one of those lucky ones who get up at any time, push the sparkle button and away you go? If you’re one of these people then you can think about organising your day so that you train very early.
If your body responds at this time of day then it’s great to know you can train and get it over and done with, leaving yourself the rest of the day clear for work family or other commitments. If you can manage it this is a really good way of managing a tight training schedule when you’ve got a young family as you’re always around at the end of the day.
4. The kids will be your best cheerleaders
My best supporters are my kids and finding a training event that they can be part of is a real boost for me. It’s also great for them as they love seeing Daddy Whenever possible; I take the family to my races.
It would probably be easier to go alone, not quite like getting an army on the road but I love having them around and they love to be part of my triathlon. If I’m good enough to win a place then it’s even better. The reality is that keeping them involved like this makes it easier for them to accept those times when Daddy has to be away somewhere they can’t come too.
5. Use your time to the best
I never realised how slack I was with my training time. Everything else fitted around it but once the family arrives – all change! Now, because I have more demands on my time, and nothing’s more demanding than the family, I make sure every moment of training time I create is focussed and used to maximum advantage.
No more junk miles for me. Every run is part of a carefully crafted schedule that addresses a particular need and is a carefully thought out part of a bigger plan. I’m not sure but there’s a part of me that thinks that I’ve become a better athlete since the family arrived.
6. Focus on the now
Today’s training run is what’s important now. I guess this comes out of number 5. When you get into your training activity you need to focus on it completely. Again; you’ve worked hard to create the time so focus, focus, focus.
There’s no benefit to worrying about work or the kids or the Mrs whilst you’re training, you’ll be training at less than 100%. Put all that aside and focus on what you need to do NOW. If you do this you’ll make the best use of your time and the results will speak for themselves.
7. Take race holidays
No, not time off from racing…..When you plan your race calendar you should be looking for races that you’ll enjoy (of course) but look for opportunities to take the family along. We’re already touched on this earlier. Planning your race schedule with them in mind really puts you in the Super Mum or Super Dad category.
It’s really great to be able to complete and then follow up with some good old family time together. What could be better than a triathlon event followed by time out on the beach to wind down with the kids. You might even find competitions where there are events for the kids to take part in.
8. Get them all involved
You want the best for the kids so you’ll certainly want them to be healthy. Try getting them involved in taking part as well as watching. The more you seem to involve them the more they seem to relish the challenge.
My tribe are avid fans of Daddy and the sport. Whilst they might not be taking part in the cycle races on local roads we do activities that enable them to share what Daddy’s up to. Competing and self improvement is already becoming part of their lives and of course it keeps them more closely involved in your training schedule.
Feel free to share your tips below…